The Tale of Genji. Chapter 17

Utagawa Kunisada

  • The Tale of Genji. Chapter 17 2
Basic information
Utagawa Kunisada
The Tale of Genji. Chapter 17
Date of creation
colour woodcut embossing
paper Indian ink
Dimensions (height x width, cm)
23 x 34
Information about author
Utagawa Kunisada
Artist's lifetime
Utagawa Kunisada (1786–1865), also known as Toyokuni III, was a famous, prolific and successful artist who worked in the ukiyo-e genre ("picture of the world in progress") in 19th-century Japan. He represented the Utagawa school of xylography and later became its head. Practically from his first day of work until his death, Kunisada was a trendsetter in Japanese woodcutting. Known for his series of theatrical prints, city views of Edo and bijin-ga (depictions of beauties). Twelve works by Utagawa Kunisada from the collection of Borys Voznytskyi Lviv National Art Gallery are part of a series of 54 editions depicting scenes from sections of the writer Murasaki Shikibu's The Tale of Genji, which is considered one of the greatest works of Japanese literature. The court life and travels of Prince Genji are depicted with amazing attention to detail, including lavish clothing and architectural compositions. The images are made with very fine lines and understated colours of blue, red and brown in various shades. Works are united by the same print in the upper right-hand corner in cursive Sose (herb lettering). The print includes a calligraphic inscription in a cartouche and a serial number. There is also an ornamental frame with Genji emblems, which is repeated on each of the works. Such a combination was characteristic of book engravings.
Object description
The engraving shows Court Minister Genji and his wife Murasaki choosing paintings for Emperor Suzaku. They are assisted by two maids, one carrying a chest and the other removing scrolls from a cabinet. The scene takes place in a room, with an open window through which a branch of plum trees in bloom can be seen.
In the top right corner a calligraphic inscription in a cartouche and a serial number "17". Bottom left author's signature, censors' and publisher's stamps.